May is a festive month in the Philippines wherein bountiful harvest of fruits, unique crops and flowers is being celebrated in most agricultural towns in the country.
Flores de Mayo
When the rains come after a long dry spell, flowers seem to bloom overnight and to celebrate the much needed rains, the Filipinos celebrate by giving praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary by holding a yearly Santacruzan.
First they gather the flowers and use them to decorate the church’s aisles and altars. The flowers are then bundled into giant blooms and used in many different springtime festivals collectively known as “Flores De Mayo” or Flowers of May.
Many predominately Catholic towns in the Philippines celebrate Flores de Mayo with gatherings in the afternoons to pray the rosary, offer the flowers to the Virgin Mary and to enjoy locally homemade snacks. In many parishes these afternoon sessions evolve into a procession to the church where an evening mass is celebrated.
Flowers of May
This process is referred to as “Santacruzan” or the Festival of the Holy Cross. This is to commemorate the finding of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem by Santa Helena. Young woman in the towns are selected to represent the various characters of the commemoration. Each wears a unique and colorful gown meant to resemble the Queen that she portrays. The focal point of the procession is the Reina Elena or Queen Helena. She walks with Prince Constantino under a giant canopy made up of the May flowers.
Festival of the Holy Cross
Right behind them is a float the carries an image of the Virgin Mary. Behind that is a band that provides a festive air to the procession. As this procession slowly moves through the streets of the town, the residents holding lighted candles fall in and join as the rosary is read and songs of praise are sung. Sometimes the evening culminates with the mayor of the town hosting a dinner party to complete the celebration.